I believe that civil rights include political and human rights that are God given liberties that all people possess whether they are granted them or not. Just because a government or group of people of a certain country denies the right of free speech, freedom of religion, the right to vote, or the right to equal public facilities, does not mean that those groups of oppressed people do not possess these rights. Before the Civil Rights movement in the United States, African Americans, gay and lesbians, and other minority groups all possessed these rights, but the people in power denied them the privilege to practice these rights.
This brings up the question, whose job is it to secure the rights of people. Is it the job of the majority group of people? No, it is the job of the minorities to demand their rights. In no place in the world at no time in history has a majority group of people ever just given rights to the people who they were trying to keep power over. Minority groups should not expect the majority group to hand over these rights, they should expect to fight for them. However, once the rights are granted, it is the job of the government, which is usually controlled by the majority group, to secure these rights. Because the government is usually controlled by the majority group, once they finally succumb to the pressures of a civil rights movement, it is their responsibility that the rest of the majority group respect the rights of the minority. Take for example, the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments and the Civil Rights Act of 1965. They were all passed in order to close loopholes that the public found in order to discriminate against African Americans.
I believe that it is ok for a group of people to take their rights by any means necessary. I believe there is no illegitimate way to obtain God given rights. I believe that if a group of people suppresses your rights, you should make them so scared that they are forced to give you your rights just so they can sleep in peace at night. I realize however, that if you take this path, your view will be considered radical and not accepted by as many people as a peaceful movement. That is why I also believe that there is an alternative solution, one like that of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. You just have to deicide whether you would rather be feared or respected.
The fight for civil rights in the United States has seen both violent movements, by Malcolm X, and non-violent movements, by Dr. King. It has seen civil rights movements for multiple groups; the working class, Hispanics, and women. It is impossible to ever achieve a truly equal society. There will always be at least one group of people oppressed, but I believe that the United States is the closest today to a truly equal society than any other nation.
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